Bal Thackeray, the charismatic Shiv Sena supremo who died on this day two years ago, left behind an uncertain future for his party. With the changing times, the spark within the party which was once known for its aggression, has certainly dimmed.
So far, son Uddhav is barely managing to run the party and keep the flock together. In 2006, Thackeray’s nephew Raj Thackeray broke away from Shiv Sena to form the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS). This was when Uddhav was appointed as the leader of Shiv Sena after Bal Thackeray’s retirement from active politics. Once touted to be a force to reckon with, Raj Thackeray is now fearing being left out in the cold after suffering a dismal electoral reverse.
So the question of who will succeed in carrying the legacy of Bal Thackeray forward and stake claim to the cause of the Maratha maanus has no clear answer since his demise.
“If Uddhav or Raj have to come together, a situation that seems difficult, they will have to take into consideration the views of both the ‘Shiv Sainik and the ‘Mann Sainik’,” says political analyst and Editor-in-Chief of Zee 24 Taas Uday Nirgudkar.
Predicting tough times ahead for the Shiv Sena, Nirgudkar adds, “Though Uddhav is running the party, Shiv Sena will find it difficult to be in the opposition in the assembly as they are in alliance with the BJP at the Centre and in various civic bodies. One cannot be a friend in the morning and a rival in the evening.”
Senior journalist Pratap Aasbe is of the opinion that if Bal Thackeray was alive, he would not have been so desperate to be a part of the government. “Even after breaking the 25-year-old alliance with BJP, Uddhav Thackeray was able to win 63 assembly seats which is a great achievement. But now he is showing how desperate he is for power. The leader himself is in two minds and this is dangerous for the party. If this situation continues, it will demoralise the Shiv Sainiks,” says Aasbe.
Shiv Sena and MNS are the only parties in Maharashtra staking claim to the cause of the Marathi maanus, a cause that national parties cannot take up successfully. Though the importance of national parties in the state politics is growing, the relevance of the regional parties cannot be ruled out. TMC in West Bengal, Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh, AIADMK and DMK in Tamil Nadu, JD(U) in Bihar and other parties are still playing a major role because of their ideologies. Therefore, the importance of the parties fighting for the ‘Marathi manus’ still remains relevant.
However, Nirgudkar feels that the aspirations of the ‘Marathi manus’ are changing. “Both Uddhav and Raj will have to come together in the near future for their own survival. Today, the masses are not united and even in this situation, regional parties are harming the common man rather than fighting for their cause.”
Bal Thackeray was known for remaining firm on his stand. But this is not the same with Uddhav. He may be running the party, but lacks his father’s leadership qualities. Even after having 63 MLAs, Uddhav is unable to pack a punch. On the other hand, Raj Thackeray, who has the qualities and style of the late Bal Thackeray, has failed to appeal to the masses. His party was decimated to 1 seat in 2014 from the 11 seats he had won 2009.
Stating that Shiv Sena is facing a paralysis of position, Nirgudkar says, “The flip-flops by Shiv Sena has shown them in a poor light. A credible and strong leader can make a difference, but Uddhav is yet to achieve this.”
First published on: dnaindia.com